Missorui fails to upset Florida on the road, fall to 0-4 on the season

Strong performances from Marshall and Swanson were overshadowed by multiple career nights for the Gators.

When a member of the Florida gymnastics team completes an amazing routine — one where they know they killed it, the announcers know they killed it and even the fans know they killed it — the entire Gators squad rushes to their teammate to congratulate and just absolutely mob them.

There was a lot of mobbing Friday night in Gainesville, Florida.

The stars were out for No.1 Florida, as they comfortably handled No.24 Missouri. It seemed business as usual for some of the best gymnasts in the nation.

Led by juniors Nya Reed and Trinity Thomas, alongside senior stud Megan Skaggs, the Gators took slight control early, and only tightened their grip throughout the meet.

The Tigers showed great promise throughout the night, especially at the start. Freshman Jena Swanson and junior Amaya Marshall set career highs on bars. Going into the meet, Missouri needed to be ahead, or at least not too far behind, before heading into the third rotation.

Missouri did extremely well in the first two events, bars and vault. While there wasn’t a truly breathtaking performance, there were no mistakes.

The Tigers put together one clean routine after another. They were in clear striking distance after bars, as Florida led 49.375-49.050. While confident, Missouri knew they would have to be near perfect if it wanted to pull its best upset of the season.

Florida didn’t even give them the chance at an upset after its turn on the bars.

Not one, not two, not three but four Gators had season highs on bars, two of those being career highs earned by sophomore Payton Richards and freshman Gabrielle Gallentine. The Tigers also performed well on the vault, with every score being above a 9.6. Marshall led the Tigers with a 9.8.

Just when Missouri thought they could make their move, Florida stretched its lead out even farther to 98.975-97.950.

Unfortunately for Marshall and her team, the Thomas show just started. The junior put together a rotation-saving routine with a 9.950, although many believed it deserved the full 10. This occurred five minutes after fellow junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf suffered what looked to be a round-losing fall, possibly costing her team a solid overall score.

Thomas and her teammates picked up the slack with a great finish to the rotation, which dropped Johnson-Scharpf’s score. A possible winning rotation for Missouri turned into yet another victory for the Gators.

Heading into the fourth rotation, the floodgates burst open.

Marshall, Sienna Schreiber and Sydney Schaffer all put up brutal scores on the beam. The trio finished in the bottom three for the meet in this rotation. Gabrielle Gottula provided a bright spot with a 9.875, a solid score for the veteran.

It also didn’t help that when Missouri struggled on the beam, Florida absolutely tore up the floor. The five scores Florida kept for the fourth rotation all finished in the top five for the meet. Not one Tiger finished ahead of the five best Gators.

Despite the tough end to the meet, there were plenty of positives to take away from Friday’s loss. Marshall competed in the all-around with Schreiber for the first time in her career tonight and she performed at a very high level.

The junior finished with an overall score of 38.575, and it would have been a lot higher if it wasn’t for the 9.075 on the beam to end the night. Her vault and floor routine both scored higher than Schreiber. Marshall actually led the team overall on floor and was second on vault.

Another positive was the freshman sensation Swanson. After a career-high on bars, she also scored a 9.825 on vault and a 9.850 on floor. Coach Shannon Welker will most certainly rely on Swanson for upcoming meets.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Missouri. Each of the eight SEC teams is ranked in the top 25.

The Tigers yet to face off against Auburn, Arkansas and LSU, with the latter being the second- best team in the country.

Their next meet is Auburn, and the Tigers will most certainly be looking at that meet for their first win of the season. Auburn is ranked only two spots ahead of Missouri, meaning it will be a closely contested matchup.

Luckily for the squad, a two week break might be exactly what they need. Missouri will host Auburn at Hearnes Center on Feb. 12.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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